Make the Front Porch a Selling Point

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

The front porch is making a comeback. And more builders are adding them back into new home designs.

The front porch was once a mainstay in home designs in the early 1900s. But over the years it has gotten swapped out for those street-facing garages. Also, homeowners sought more privacy and started favoring decks in their backyards than expansive front porches facing their neighbors.

Now, we’re seeing those iconic front porches coming back.

And the younger generation is bringing a different spin to this idea of “porching.” There’s this growing movement called “Porchfest.” This is where neighborhoods across the country are holding events, like music festivals or even a speaker series, right from homeowners’ front porches.

So if the listing you’re staging has a front porch, make sure to take advantage. Add some rocking chairs, a porch swing, or outdoor furniture–complete with cushions and pillows–to show it off as a place to sip lemonade, relax, and mingle with neighbors on a warm summer day.

Look at how some of these designers on Houzz used the front porch to boost a home’s curb appeal.

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Staged to Sell: Peek Inside This Essex County, N.J. Home

Home stagers: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, real estate pros and owners of Ambiance Decorators LLC

The home: A single-family home located in Upper Montclair in Essex County, N.J. The home was staged by Amy Burke and Katie Miedler, and ended up selling 107 percent of the asking price–at $1,073,575. Burke and Miedler sought to stage the home with a “fresh, updated, classic, and timeless” look.

BEFORE

AFTER

Photo credit: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, Ambiance Decorators LLC

 

Stagers’ tips:

  • Curtains: Sheer curtains are great for softening windows and letting the light in. They do not compete with the design and are not too “style specific” so they are often processed as calming.
  • Plants: Plants are so important in design for color and texture. They also add interest by bringing the outdoors in.
  • Colors:Soft colors present a calming affect allowing buyers to view the room as relaxing and peaceful.

BEFORE

AFTER

Photo credit: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, Ambiance Decorators LLC

Stagers’ tips:

  • Furniture: It’s often best to leave out the chairs at the head of the dining table…this prevents the back of the chair from stopping your eye in a photograph.
  • Accessories: A beautiful runner, arrangement of flowers and a few candles create a classic centerpiece.
  • Art: Art is the last item added to the design. We often add neutral art to complete the look of the room but not distract buyers from focus on the space.

BEFORE

AFTER

Photo credit: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, Ambiance Decorators LLC

Stagers’ tips:

  • Accessories: Just a few accessories on the bookshelf will highlight the space without feeling overwhelming or cluttered.
  • Lighting: It’s always best to compliment the furniture arrangement with lighting. If there’s not enough space for end tables, floor lamps are a great option.
  • Furniture: A padded bench is a great option for a coffee table to add a little something different.

 

Have a home you recently staged that you’d like to show off here at Styled Staged & Sold? Submit your staging photos for consideration, along with three to five of your best spruce-up tips. Contact Melissa Dittmann Tracey at mtracey@realtors.org.

Houzzer Profile: Karthik Roop Kumar, Software Engineer

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As a software engineer, Karthik is focused on building the visual and interactive experience you see on our website. Outside of work, he is an outdoor adventurer, enjoying everything from skiing and snowboarding, to hiking, running and cycling.

Why did you decide to become a software engineer?
Growing up in Bangalore, which many consider to be the Silicon Valley of India, it was motivating to see others achieving great success in the field of computer science. I was inspired to follow a similar path and really honed my skills in computer science while studying for my masters degree. My love for front-end engineering developed through courses in the field of human-computer interaction.

What brought you to Houzz?
Houzz is a very visual site by nature and holds the mantel for web design. I realized that the wide range of problems that Houzz is solving for its community presented opportunities for me to be creative and make an impact on a large scale, so I wanted to join the team.

How did your previous experience prepare you for working here?
My graduate studies and previous work experience equipped me with the skill set to learn quickly while managing multiple challenges at once. At Houzz, I have had the opportunity to work on web infrastructure, which has been a new experience, so I’m learning and contributing at the same time.

What project are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of launching the front-end stack of the Node.js framework, that enables us to build a faster, and richer, app-like user experience. As a team, we rebuilt the entire web infrastructure from scratch and migrated one of the largest pages on Houzz. The most challenging part of the project was replicating the many years of development effort and quality without affecting any of the user engagement that the existing page was driving. It was a major cross-functional collaboration involving an array of teams both locally and internationally.

Do you have any productivity hacks that you use when you’re faced with a challenge?
They say necessity is the mother of all inventions. When I’m struggling to find a specific solution, I put myself in a scenario where I have limited resources, which forces me to think outside of the box.

When do you write your best code?
I’m a night person and write my best code after 4pm.

What do you like most about working at Houzz?
We really are true to our core values. We are a family, we build the future and we make things happen. Because of the flat structure of our organization, everyone is treated equally and given a lot of responsibility. I feel empowered in my role and am surrounded by smart, yet approachable and supportive teammates who will go the extra mile to get things done.

This type of culture stems directly from our leadership. One evening, the engineering team was working late on a major migration and our cofounder not only ordered pizzas, he plated them to make sure everyone got enough food. I haven’t met another founder who is as humble and motivating.

Staged to Sell: This Staged Home Sold for 107% Above Asking Price

Home stagers: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, real estate pros and owners of Ambiance Decorators LLC

The home: A single-family home located in Upper Montclair in Essex County, N.J. The home was staged by Amy and Katie, and sold for 107 percent of the asking price at $1,073,575. Amy and Katie sought to stage the home with a “fresh, updated, classic, and timeless” look.

BEFORE

AFTER

Photo credit: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, Ambiance Decorators LLC

 

Stagers’ tips:

  • Curtains: Sheer curtains are great for softening windows and letting the light in. They do not compete with the design and are not too “style specific” so they are often processed as calming.
  • Plants: Plants are so important in design for color and texture. They also add interest by bringing the outdoors in.
  • Colors:Soft colors present a calming affect allowing buyers to view the room as relaxing and peaceful.

BEFORE

AFTER

Photo credit: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, Ambiance Decorators LLC

Stagers’ tips:

  • Furniture: It’s often best to leave out the chairs at the head of the dining table…this prevents the back of the chair from stopping your eye in a photograph.
  • Accessories: A beautiful runner, arrangement of flowers and a few candles create a classic centerpiece.
  • Art: Art is the last item added to the design. We often add neutral art to complete the look of the room but not distract buyers from focus on the space.

BEFORE

AFTER

Photo credit: Amy Burke & Katie Miedler, Ambiance Decorators LLC

Stagers’ tips:

  • Accessories: Just a few accessories on the bookshelf will highlight the space without feeling overwhelming or cluttered.
  • Lighting: It’s always best to compliment the furniture arrangement with lighting. If there’s not enough space for end tables, floor lamps are a great option.
  • Furniture: A padded bench is a great option for a coffee table to add a little something different.

 

Have a home you recently staged that you’d like to show off here at Styled Staged & Sold? Submit your staging photos for consideration, along with three to five of your best spruce-up tips. Contact Melissa Dittmann Tracey at mtracey@realtors.org.

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Hot Home Trend: Geometric Patterns in Décor

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Color forecaster Pantone cited geometric patterns as one of the top home design trends to watch in 2018. Shapes and, in particular, circular ones are being showcased in more home decor. Greater use of bold, circular patterns are being infused into everything from accent pillows and rugs to wall art and even tile backsplashes.

 

Wallpaper trends are showcasing more geometric shapes too. For example, check out these two photos below from designers featured at Houzz. One, showcases a geometric wallpaper that is more subtle in a silver color and used an accent wall. The other photo showcases geometric shapes in a more dramatic way where the wallpaper serves as a focal point and then the rest of the decor is in solid colors.

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How to Use the Latest Ideabook Features for Pros: New Ways to Save and Organize

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You may have noticed that we recently updated Houzz ideabooks, making them an even more powerful tool for pros and their clients. Here are some of the key new features and how to use them:

Based on community feedback, we added a universal Save button to every area of Houzz, so you can now save more than photos to your ideabooks.

  • Save specific discussions and articles so they’re easy to find and reference anytime. Discussions and articles are presented in the same “card” format as photos, with the title and topic prominently displayed.
  • Homeowners can now save specific pro profiles to ideabooks. At the top left of every pro profile, just below the profile photo, is a Save button that enables homeowners to save pro profiles directly into an ideabook, making it easy to find the pros they want to contact when they are ready to hire.

It’s easier than ever to order and reorder the content in ideabooks. Simply drag and drop any piece of content to the spot you want it. Use the Organize feature to move multiple pieces of content all at once within an ideabook, move items to a different ideabook or delete them.

You also can save files and documents into your ideabooks for easy access, including:

  • Project schedules. Add and delete your latest schedules for easy reference.
  • Receipts. If your clients purchase products on their own, they can upload them to ideabooks and make it easy for you to add to your budget tracking.
  • Photos you take with your smartphone. Use the Houzz mobile app to seamlessly add photos you take when you are out on job sites, visiting showrooms or at the clients’ home. Or upload photo files from your computer.

Save photos and products from around the web with the new Browser Extension for Chrome.

  • After installing, you’ll see the Houzz icon appear when you mouse over any photo on any website.
  • Click on the Houzz icon anytime you want to save something to Houzz. You’ll be prompted to choose the ideabook to save it to.
  • And of course you can use our Sketch tool to annotate any images in your ideabook, whether you uploaded them or found them on Houzz. Just click on the pencil icon to launch the tool.
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Thanks to our community for all the great feedback that helps us continue to create and improve tools like these on Houzz.

How to Make a New House Your Own

By Julea Joseph, guest contributor

The keys are in your buyer’s hands! They’ve gone through the process … the search, deciding, inspection, stress, closing, and finally, the elation of buying a new home. Now, they have to make it their own. Here’s how.

Color –  Paint is the least expensive, easiest way to update a space.  It can individualize a room and put your personal stamp on your home. Pick your color style: From modern farmhouse neutrals to Boho bold colors. Whatever is in your style files (Pinterest, HOUZZ, tear-sheets), color can showcase it. And color doesn’t have to be just on the walls. If you want to keep the wall color simple, infuse color with your furniture, art, or accessory choices. Get your craft on by painting a piece of furniture, or recover your dining chairs seats with new fabric. Try trending wallpaper on a single accent wall or powder room. Create a signature look with a statement making front door color. With color, the change is quick, easy and all you.

Photo credit: Benjamin Moore

Your Favorite Things –  A home should hold your beautiful art, furniture, passed down family treasures, and loved flowers in your garden beds.  Simple daily rituals with favorite things, cozy slippers slipped on at the end of day, or tossing your keys into that old bowl, will infuse you into the home. It could be something new that defines your new chapter of home. That perfect comfy sofa you spied, a fresh new style that you’ve wanted to try out, fun new pillows to add a splash to a patio set. By incorporating these favorite things, you’ll become instantly grounded in your new space.

Photo credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space

Make Your Bed! – A bed is your personal haven and cocoon. Dressing your bed makes your home environment feel luxurious. Even if the bedroom still has boxes, you can sleep well with a beautifully made bed. I like to mix old with new. New, fresh, very fancy (the best you can afford) sheets, a stylish linen duvet set slipped over your old favorite down comforter and pillows. Pair the bedding with Grandma’s quilt or your favorite throw at the end of the bed and you’ll be ready for a great night’s sleep.

Photo credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space

Room to Room – This is where you channel Frances Mayer, the character from “Under the Tuscan Sun” – by going room to room to make it yours. Don’t try to tackle the entire home’s decorating and styling needs, instead, try to work on the spaces you spend the most time in first.

Photo credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space

Five Senses – Nothing says home more than seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling your favorites things of home. Put out those family photos, beloved books, play music, light some candles in your favor scent, open your favorite wine, and curl up on that fluffy sofa and celebrate home.

Photo credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space

This post originally appeared at Reinventing Space. Reprinted with permissions. Copyright 2018. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julea Joseph is the owner and lead designer at Reinventing Space in Chicago. Visit her website and blog at Julea.com.

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Hot Home Trend: Edison Bulbs

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Does your listing’s lighting need a contemporary makeover? Edison bulbs may be the answer. These clear glass light bulbs, in which the center is exposed, have a nostalgic-like appearance and let out a nice warm glow. They stand out, instead of allowing your lighting to blend in.

Edison bulbs may best fit in an industrial décor style, but we’re seeing them weaved more and more into other design styles too.

Table lamps, chandeliers, and pendant lights are getting an Edison-bulb upgrade. Not to mention, they’re popular outside at the moment too with stringed Edison-style bulbs to entertain your outdoor spaces. (Read: Add a Party Vibe to Your Outdoor Staging)

Check out some stylish ways Edison bulbs are being used in different home styles.

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Houzzer Profile: Kia Salehi, Full Stack Engineer

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You may have spotted Kia in our April Fools’ Day spoof, but she isn’t really creating our cryptocurrency. As a full stack engineer on our growth team, Kia builds features that help new users engage with Houzz. When she’s not at work, Kia can be found at her improv comedy class, rock climbing or filling out the latest New York Times crossword puzzle.

What project are you most proud of at Houzz?
I’m most proud of my contributions to the new room-centered landing experience for our community. It helps our users to find all of the resources Houzz offers by room, from inspirational photos to home professionals to editorial ideabooks, in one place. I worked on the front-end code, which impacts what the user sees. It’s been very successful helping people to discover new home pros in their area and Houzz Shop products.

Do you typically work on front-end code?
As a full stack engineer, my work touches both front-end and back-end code. In some instances, I’ll handle the whole project from the data sets to the UI, but sometimes I’ll work with the team and focus on the front-end. I like that I get to mix it up.

Did you always want to become an engineer?
Actually, I originally went to school to become a neuroscientist. Working as a lab manager, I learned how to write code in MatLab to help with analyzing data. I realized I enjoyed that part of the job more than other aspects of my research and decided to make a change. I enrolled in a coding bootcamp and the rest is history.

What attracted you to a career in STEM?
My parents were very supportive of my interests in math and science. I went to a women’s college, so it was both powerful and inspiring for me to see every position, across subjects and at every level of prominence, occupied by female leaders.

Do you have any advice for young women considering the STEM field?
You don’t have to see something to know that it can be possible. Just because young women may not see as many females in STEM positions, doesn’t mean they can’t be in that role.

What was your first impression of Houzz?
When I first visited the office to interview, I was completely taken in by the feel of it. You can tell a company is “all in” on home design when you sit in a conference room decorated like rooms in a home. That level of dedication was really appealing. I was also struck by the fact that most of the people interviewing me had been with Houzz for years. I hadn’t seen that at other companies and I was really impressed.

What do you like most about working here?
I work with many teams in my role; it’s very interdisciplinary in that way. For example, I’ll work solo writing code, then I’ll run it through an AB test with a colleague to see how the new feature performs and then meet with the front-end engineers to build a pop-up into the flow. I also like that the work environment is transparent and educational. I’ve benefited from our weekly deep dive into what’s under the hood of our front-end framework.

What is your most productive time of day to write code? Do you have any productivity tips?
I’m most productive right before dinner. When I sit on the couch in the lobby, I can really get in the zone. If I ever get in a slump, I remind myself to think about how cool it’ll look when the feature is done.

How do you use Houzz at home?
I recently changed rooms in my home and the new space has a different vibe, so I purchased a camomile and lavender wreath from the Houzz Shop. It’s the perfect addition.

Meet the Designer: Travis Morelock, MIDMODERNdesign

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In the latest episode of “My Houzz,” Olivia Munn enlists the help of Travis Morelock from MIDMODERNdesign, who she found on Houzz, to create a space uniquely personalized to her mom – from custom cabinets to match her mom’s height to a built-in rice cooker. Learn more about how Travis got started in design, some of his best tips, and insights from the My Houzz surprise renovation below.

What got you started in your career?
I grew up in a construction family. My dad built every house that we lived in (21 houses before I left home at 18), and my mom made selections for each house with a different style. My grandpa built schools, my uncle builds commercial buildings, my aunt is a successful real estate broker, so I was destined to be involved in the industry that consumed my childhood! I read houseplan books like they were comics and This Old House was my equivalent of cartoons. I love every aspect of design and construction and it is all that I’ve known.

What is your design philosophy?
To me design is all about collaboration. Some designers have a vision and fulfill it, but I would be bored to tears if I was only trying to please myself. Instead I love the challenge of incorporating different opinions, viewpoints and preferences to make the final design so much stronger than I could have made it alone.

Where’s the most unexpected place you’ve found design inspiration?
I find design inspiration every day and in everything that I see. I am especially inspired by hotels and restaurants and love to translate that inspiration into residential living. The most unexpected place I look for design inspiration is restaurant restrooms. Just like powder rooms in a home, restrooms in a restaurant are your small blank canvas to get creative and make a statement!

What are clients asking you for?
My clients are asking for light and bright spaces with big open floor plans. We love that look too but the challenge is to also bring in warmth and a feeling of comfort into these spaces. We already are seeing the transition into warmer and deeper colors as accents and so I am really excited about what is happening next in design.

What do you geek out on when it comes to design?
I am a total geek for all of it. Tile, fabrics and wallpapers with texture are bound to turn my head. The technology that has come to our industry in the past five years has been incredible and we are seeing more and more man-made materials that capture the beauty of nature.

What excites you the most about going to work every day?
My clients and my team. I have the best clients in the world and our team is second to none. Taylor and Brooke work with me everyday to create incredible spaces for incredible people and they make coming to work fun. We don’t get too serious and we have a good laugh often.

What is your favorite part of the design process?
I love the demo. It never ceases to amaze me what a good demo crew and a few dumpsters can do! It is one of the biggest transformations for my clients because for the first time they are seeing the space just the way I have seen it since I walked in – a blank slate!

What is your favorite element in the space from this project?
I love tons of elements in this space, but my favorite is the newly framed needlepoints that Olivia’s mom had done while she was growing up. The detail is incredible, and I can’t imagine how much time was spent on completing those. We loved the opportunity to show them off for what they are – beautiful art!

What was the biggest challenge during this project and how did you solve it?
The biggest challenge on this project was creating a kitchen that could really function for Olivia’s mom. I was told that cooking is her love language and she does it in mass. Given her height and what needed to be easily accessible without assistance, we executed several pull downs, focused storage in lower cabinets, and even installed a remote control for the range hood to give Kim full access to the kitchen features and hopefully an easy and enjoyable space to cook in.

When you’re not designing, where can you be found?
My husband Jason and I can be found in Yountville, CA near the Napa Valley at a wine tasting if we are not working. Taking time off is rare, but we have fallen in love with that corner of the world. We are foodies and wine lovers so there’s no better place to relax.